Social Media Makes Raising Tweens Both Easier and More Challenging

I’m about 2 years away from the tween phase, and I am NOT looking forward to it. It’s such an awkward time! They’re still kids, little kids, on the cusp of this huge jump into the teen years. It’s a lot to process, and there’s a lot happening in those developing minds and bodies. As much as I love social media, I have mixed feelings about the role it will play when I’m raising tweens. A new study confirms my feelings. It says that social media can be both helpful in raising tweens, but also make it more difficult.

Raising tweens is hard enough. But navigating the landscape of social media adds another layer.

A new national poll suggest that parents appreciate the ways social media make it easier to raise kids. 61% of respondents say it makes easier to track their whereabouts and keep tabs on them. But nearly all parents said they believed that social media made it easier for kids to get into trouble. Poll co-director Sarah Clark says, “The tween stage brings new challenges for parents as they often must balance their child’s desire for more freedom and independence with supervision. It’s not an easy balancing act.”

55% of parents say they would read their tween’s texts or social media posts if they were invited to a boy-girl party, or invited to a home they weren’t familiar with. Only 39% would use location services to track their tween’s location at the party.

Obviously, when your tween has a phone or iPad, there should be ground rules. Passwords are always shared, parents have access, etc. But some families still feel this borders on “spying” on their kids. There’s definitely some push and pull between giving your child the freedom to make mistakes, and wanting to make sure they don’t make really terrible, life-altering ones. Two-thirds of poll respondents agree that kids should be given the freedom to mess up, but it’s such a hard balance to maintain.

Raising tweens is really just a precursor to the awfulness of raising teens.

But it’s good practice, and it’s a good time to establish some boundaries and rules. Technology and social media are amazing in a lot of ways. But trying to figure out how to raise kids in this era is something, I think, we all struggle with.

(Image: iStock / dolgachov)

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